Anthony Davidson: the driver debates

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 2007, 470150

Today’s subject of our weekly driver debates is Super Aguri pilot Anthony Davidson.

How does he stack up against team mate Takuma Sato? What would he do in a more competitive car? Read my opinion and have your say below.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Anthony Davidson made his F1 d?‚?ģbut with the wrong team at the wrong time in the wrong circumstances. And for a long while after his two appearances with Minardi in 2002 – both of which ended in retirement – it looked as though he’d had his F1 chance and blown it.

But those who looked more closely at his brief stint with the Italian team saw genuine promise. In his first F1 race at the Hungaroring his fastest race lap was two-tenths quicker than Mark Webbers – and few doubted Webber deserved a seat with a top team.

BAR saw the potential and snapped up Davidson as their third driver. In 2004, when the team were at the peak of their form and he was the Friday test driver, Davidson’s number 35 car would often appear at the top of the practice times.

But they never actually put him in a race car, except for a brief appearance at the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix in place of Takuma Sato. It was ruined by engine after a mere handful of laps.

As long as Jenson Button occupied one of the BAR seats (which became Honda in 2006), Davidson was never likely to get a drive – ordinarily there is little commercial value in having two drivers of the same nationality in one team.

However the opposite to that logic worked against Davidson when Honda created the Super Aguri team, who specifically wanted two drivers of the same nationality – Japanese – in their team. Davidson stayed on the sidelines as Rubens Barrichello took Takuma Sato’s place at Honda, while Sato joined Super Aguri with Yuji Ide.

In 2007 Super Aguri changed their approach and placed Davidson in the car alongside Sato – but it was still very much the case that the Japanese driver was number one. He justified it by scoring four points early in the season when the team was at its most competitive.

As the season wore on and Davidson found his feet he began regularly out-qualifying and out-racing Sato. At Istanbul he drove a near-perfect qualifying lap to line up 11th on the grid.

He kept his place in the team this year and it’s believed that Honda spurned an investment offer from the Indian Spice Group for the team because they wanted to replace Davidson with Narain Karthikeyan. After three races it looks like Davidson has maintained and perhaps even extended his advantage over Sato.

Sato may not be the greatest benchmark in F1 (we’ll discuss his career in detail here next week) but I think Davidson’s done enough to deserve a shot with a decent team. Whether he gets it or not will sadly probably be down to luck and economics rather than his talent.

Anthony Davidson biography

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri, 2007, 470313

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14 comments on Anthony Davidson: the driver debates

  1. Andy Wolf said on 15th April 2008, 9:02

    Morning Keith!
    Poor Anthony’s been totally off the radar this season so far.. Forgot he was even racing.

  2. M Smith said on 15th April 2008, 10:19

    Super Aguri are pretty invisible this year. Its a shame really because both drivers are racing quite well.

    Ant certainly deserves a better drive –¬†like taking over David Coulthard? He’s been in two rookie-like collisions this season already! Granted, both of them weren’t totally his fault, but does he ever yield just a little bit even he’s being overtaken?

  3. Davidson is quiet low profile guy (not meant in a bad way). He does not make the headlines much, many people would not even realize there is such guy racing in F1 … Being out of radar may not always be good in F1 …

    Re: "There’s no doubt in my mind that Anthony Davidson made his F1 début with the wrong team at the wrong time in the wrong circumstances. "

    I would say that is not only case of his debut but of his all career in F1 so far … Look at Webber where he went after Minardi … OK, Webber may also wonder why he always ends up in a car that breaks, but I believe Davidson would not mind trading places with him …

    It will be hard for Davidson to secure better race seat … There are too many rookies waiting for chance. And if teams look for race experience Davidson would not be the first choice …

    But who knows, Ferrari may steal Kubica from BMW one day and Theissen may pick yet another Friday free practice star for his team’s¬†race¬†seat :-)

  4. hoshiyar said on 15th April 2008, 11:27

    i agree that anthony does look promising and does deserve a decent car. its very sad that super aguri is in such a financial crisis that they dont even do the testing any more and are basically running with a 07 car.  i beleive the team has a brilliant engineering team that was able to outclass the richer honda team all through the 07 season.
    coming back to anthony i would like to see him either at williams or red bull next season. williams, however, has nico hulkenberg waiting in the wings. so red bull seems the better choice once DC makes way…

  5. DanielPT said on 15th April 2008, 11:45

    Anthony Davidson is a driver that fits in one type of drivers:
    Those of "What could have been?". I believe he wasn’t very lucky in his career so far, and he risks being dumped (as he is not that young and there is an option today for "the younger the better" in F1), without showing the promising stuff he displayed at Honda. Anyway i believe he will go out with Super Aguri…

  6. Number 38 said on 15th April 2008, 15:10

    "Davidson replacing Coulthard" is a good move however unlikely.
    "Youth over experience", the downfall of F1.
    "Davidson deserves a better car"……… absolutely.
    My two pence worth ……… Renault ought to consider him to replace Alonso next year.¬† (or maybe replace Piquet !!!)

  7. Gman said on 15th April 2008, 15:35

    I think it would be great to see Davidson at Red Bull once DC honorably sets off into retirement. However, don’t you all think that everyone’s favorite¬†golden boy-Sebiastain Vettel- will be snapped up by Red Bull if he hasen’t already gone to a top team by that time?

    Davidson is a solid driver in my opinion, someone who deserves a shot with a team higher up the grid. However, as well all know, sometimes politics/glitz/glamor can be the determining factors in who gets the seats first, and that may leave a good lad like Anthony on the outside. Best wishes to him for this season and beyond.

  8. Douglas Revill said on 15th April 2008, 15:41

    I agree that Anthony Davidson is a great tallent. He is very quick, and given the right car, I am sure he would be equal to many of the front runners. He has had a few accidents, but when you are in the thinck of it at the rear of the grid, you are much more likely to have an accident.
    I think he has done enough to earn a drive in a top team. I hope someone picks him up soon. Personally, I think he would be a better choice than Rubens Barrichello.

  9. Rohan said on 15th April 2008, 16:07

    I have yet to see anything in Davidson that warrants a place in F1 – he is regularly outpaced by Sato, who himself isn’t good enough in the first place.

  10. Daniel said on 15th April 2008, 19:02

    There are two kinds of race winners… those who shines instantly, whether in¬†a fast (Hamilton at McLaren, 2007) or slow(Alonso at Minardi, 2001) car, and those who needs time to get themselves together (Massa at Sauber, 2002, Rosberg and Mansell three decades ago)… the thing is… when you don’t shine instantly, even if your value can be seen by those¬†who analyze in-depth race data, you’re seriously in risk of losing your seat for the next "promise"…

    And for me Davidson is a potential race winner of the second type…

  11. Daniel said on 15th April 2008, 19:03

    oops, sorry for the verbs… "needs" and "shines", they should have been "need" and "shine"

  12. Lady Snowcat said on 16th April 2008, 20:41

    All that time testing didn’t do him many favours…he was very race rusty when he finally got his chance….

    He’s good but we may never find out just how good he is….

    Poor Ant….

  13. Ant is a career driver like many others he started aged 8 and won championship galore in karting, beating Button to the top British junior title in 94. Then in 96 in European karting was a rookie sensation winning more championship races than any of the top 120 international drivers, which included Button and Raikennon. As a rookie in FFord he won the Winter championship and the FFord Festival in the Kent class then the World Cup in 2000. He won the McLaren/BRDC/Autosport Young Driver. Got signed by B.A.R. as a tester on the spot that night! In 2001 he took the seat noone dared fill alongside championship favourite coming 2nd in Brit F3, & winning the European F3 championship over all the European F3 champions with 2 wins a 2nd and a 3rd.
    The Minardi opportunity was¬†because Alex Yoong failed to qualify his car 3 times! Minardi needed¬†2 cars on the grid to claim their sponsorship monies, Anthony obliged and qualified both times, that was all that was expected of him!¬†He’s had very few shunts or off’s and in Malaysia and Bahrain he¬†totally outperformed Sato. He’s a driver who uses his head and is loved by all the engineers that he has worked closely with as he¬†brings inteligence not brawn to the team. It’s a crying shame he’s never had the opportunity to¬†drive a¬†competitive car, which would be far easier to drive which is ironic is it not! Other teams have only bypassed him as it was assumed he was¬†totally contracted to Honda. But with the demise of Aguri? He is¬†now a free¬†agent!¬†¬†¬†¬†

  14. Chas said on 18th April 2008, 20:50

    agreed. davidson has a lot of potential. perhaps or alas his greatest achievements in F1 will probably be like Wurtz, as a test driver.  credit to sato in as much as at least he is not the laughable crash test dummy who loves to take out as many drivers as possible in an accident of his own making.

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